Photo credit: Elliot Ross
By Connor Lukes, University of Denver Journalism Intern
The jazz world experienced an unexpected loss as Ron Miles, esteemed cornet and trumpet player, passed away Tuesday, March 8, at the age of 58. A teacher, creator, husband and father, Miles leaves behind a monumental legacy of music and love for his community. Miles’s first instrument was a flugelhorn, which he learned to play at age 11 after moving to Denver. He studied the trumpet and cornet at East High School, the University of Colorado Boulder and the Manhattan School of Music as a graduate student — the only time since childhood he lived outside of Denver. Miles was a music educator for 35 years at Metropolitan State University of Denver, most recently as Musician in Residence, Jazz Studies.
He starred on twelve jazz albums recorded since 1987, the latest 2020’s Rainbow Sign on the Blue Note Records label. Miles was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame’s Jazz Masters & Beyond class in 2017. The Hall’s executive director, Karen Radman, laments the loss of Denver’s jazz titan. “Ron Miles’s talent is undeniable and his music legendary,” she says. “But what was also so striking about him was his genuine warmth, humbleness and gentle spirit. Whenever I communicated with him, he always asked after my family. His legacy will live on in not only his music but also in the music of the many, many students he taught and mentored. He will be missed. My heart goes out to his family and close friends.”
The Colorado Music Hall of Fame’s updated exhibits at the Red Rocks Trading Post this spring will feature Miles and display his first flugelhorn.
Read more about his career as an internationally renowned composer, collaborator and educator by clicking HERE
Additional coverage on his life and death: